Overview of Assessment | MVCC | Mohawk Valley Community College
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Teachers assess to test; educators assess to assist learning.

-- Dave Carter

Overview of Assessment

Institutional and Outcomes Assessment

Institutional Assessment

The Office of Institutional Research and Analysis (OIRA) oversees the institutional effectiveness efforts of the College. Multiple methods are used by MVCC to assess institutional effectiveness in meeting its Mission and Goals. The OIRA collects and reports on quantitative data concerning students, faculty, and staff, including information dealing with demographics; student success measures (graduation, retention, attrition rates); faculty, staff, student numbers of diversity, gender, and full- or part-time status. Course and program data are provided as part of the program assessment processes, and upon request.  The OIRA works with individual units to administer and develop surveys, and to summarize and analyze data for these efforts.  The OIRA maintains this Institutional Effectiveness website and continually updates data displayed on the Surveys and Data page.

An Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment (IE&A) Plan is developed annually to articulate the assessment processes at the College. The structure of the plan provides a detailed outline to guide assessment work, while allowing flexibility to adjust for annual priorities. At the beginning of each academic year, the Objectives and supporting Work Steps of the IE&A Plan are reviewed/revised in relation to progress in the previous year, to new initiatives, and external requirements. The plan is presented to the IEC at its first fall meeting for review and approval by the membership.

Learning Outcomes Assessment

Overview of Learning Outcomes
Institutional Learning Outcomes
General Education Learning Outcomes
Program Learning Outcomes
Course Learning Outcomes
Assessment of Learning Outcomes

Overview of Learning Outcomes (Back to top)
Learning Outcomes describe the types of knowledge, attitudes, and skills that a student will know and be able to demonstrate as a result of learning experiences within a course or program at the college. They should be measurable, attainable within an appropriate timeframe, and understandable to students, educators, employers, and the community.

Measurable learning outcomes at the institutional, program (General Education and Major) and course levels help to:

  • Identify the important issues of the learning experience
  • Document expectations in previous, current, and future courses
  • Keep educators focused on the types of opportunities necessary for students to be successful in meeting the stated outcomes
  • Describe what the learner has to demonstrate to be successful without prescribing the various strategies to achieving the learning
  • Provide a basis for curriculum planning and development which minimizes gaps and duplication
  • Link required outcomes with assessment processes

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) expects an accredited institution to have identified learning outcomes at the institutional, program and course levels.

Institutional Learning Outcomes (Back to top)
Developed through a college-and community-wide process in the early 1990s, the College-wide Competencies serve as the institutional-level learning outcomes for MVCC. These competencies focus on the core skills and abilities that MVCC graduates need to succeed in today’s society and the work world.

During Academic Year 2005-06 the General Education Committee reviewed and revised the competencies to include a fifth one dealing with information literacy and to include supporting outcomes for each of the five competencies. These competencies and outcomes were approved by the College Senate and the Board of Trustees in spring 2006. MVCC College-wide Competencies are expected to be met by all MVCC graduates, at a level appropriate to their degree or certificate program.

General Education Learning Outcomes (Back to top)
The State University of New York (SUNY) has implemented a policy designed to enhance and coordinate general education on all SUNY campuses. Any student graduating with a baccalaureate degree from a SUNY campus must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours in coursework from at least seven of the ten knowledge areas: Mathematics, Natural Science, Social Studies, American History, Western Civilization, Other World Civilizations, Humanities, The Arts, Foreign Language, and Basic Communication. The seven areas must include Mathematics and Basic Communication. In addition, students must demonstrate competence in the skill areas of critical thinking and information management.

SUNY has designated student learning outcomes for each of the Knowledge and Skill areas as well as guidelines for review and approval of courses in each area. SUNY approves MVCC courses as meeting the criteria for particular areas. Outcomes have also been identified for the competencies of critical thinking and information management. The outcomes for the SUNY General Education process can be found at: https://www.suny.edu/attend/academics/genedreq/.

MVCC General Education Program and Course Listing

General Education Aims: (Back to top)
General Education at MVCC consists of liberal arts and sciences courses and has a primary focus on the continuing intellectual development of the students. These courses are both general (not program specific) and liberal (not vocational or technical).The principal aim is to present students with courses designed to enable them to demonstrate that they:

A. Can communicate effectively.

Students will:

• Produce coherent texts with common college-level written forms;
• Demonstrate the ability to revise and improve such texts;
• Research a topic, develop an argument, and organize supporting details;
• Develop proficiency in oral discourse;
• Evaluate an oral presentation according to established criteria.

B. Can use mathematical processes to acquire and convey knowledge.

Students will:

• Interpret and draw inferences from mathematical models such as formulas, graphs, tables, and schematics;
• Represent mathematical information symbolically, visually, numerically, and verbally;
• Employ quantitative methods such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, or statistics to solve problems;
• Estimate and check mathematical results for reasonableness;
• Recognize the limits of mathematical or statistical methods.

C. Have a basic knowledge and understanding of the natural world.

Students will:

• Demonstrate understanding of the methods scientists use to explore the natural world, including observation, hypothesis development, measurement and data collection, experimentation, evaluation of evidence, and employment of mathematical analysis;
• Apply scientific data, concepts, and models in one of the natural sciences.

D. Have a basic knowledge of society, including an understanding of individuals, cultures, and the relationships between them.

Students will:

• Demonstrate understanding of the methods social scientists use to explore social phenomena, including observation, hypothesis development, measurement and data collection, experimentation, evaluation of evidence, and employment of mathematical and interpretive analysis;
• Demonstrate knowledge of major concepts, models, and issues of at least one discipline in the social sciences.

E. Understand human nature and the human condition as expressed in the humanities.

Students will:

• Demonstrate comprehension of how social, cultural, aesthetic, and intellectual issues are relevant to society.

Major Program Learning Outcomes (Back to top)
Program learning outcomes describe what graduates in a particular program should be able to know or do as a result of the learning experiences offered within that program. In May 2004, academic departments at the College began the process of designating program goals and supporting outcomes, some of which are learning outcomes. The program learning outcomes necessarily overlap and support the institutional learning outcomes, but may require the student to demonstrate higher levels of particular outcomes or demonstrate performance of an outcome in context to the particular degree or certificate.

MVCC understands the importance for program learning outcomes to be determined by the faculty who regularly teach within the program area, in consideration with the expectations of employers, transfer institutions and appropriate accrediting/professional bodies. Courses and activities within the program provide opportunities for students to achieve these outcomes by the completion of the program.

Course Learning Outcomes (Back to top)
Learning outcomes at the course level focus on the knowledge, skills, abilities and values that a student should be able to demonstrate as a result of completing a course. Course learning outcomes are typically determined by the course instructor, or by a team of instructors who teach the same course. In general, learning outcomes do not identify the particular teaching strategy or approach that will allow the students to attain the learning outcomes. Just as the program learning outcomes support the institutional level learning outcomes, course learning outcomes necessarily support learning outcomes at the program level.

Assessment of Learning Outcomes (back to top)

General Education
MVCC has developed a plan documenting faculty-created activities and rubrics to be used for assessment of the learning outcomes for the SUNY Knowledge and Skill Areas. Assessments in the SUNY Knowledge and Skill Areas and the Critical Thinking Competency are spread over a three-year cycle and the Information Management Competency is assessed each year.

The Major
MVCC recognizes that many faculty are already teaching and assessing the core skills and abilities described in the College-wide Competencies and General Education Learning Outcomes, and intends to continue to build on the expertise of the faculty for this purpose. To ensure the linkage between these levels of learning outcomes, Program Outcomes Assessment Report templates have been developed for each of the academic programs.

These templates designate the program goals and supporting measurable outcomes which link to the College’s Mission and/or College-wide Competencies. Departments select priority goals for assessment each year and identify assessment measures and criteria for success for the supporting outcomes. In addition, action plans for change and improvement as a result of the assessment activities are documented on the templates.

Currently, a three-to-five year cycle has been projected for assessment of the goals/outcomes on the Program Outcomes Assessment Report templates. These templates provide a basis for systematically documenting the assessment of student attainment of the College-wide Competencies and the program learning outcomes within the curricula.

In compliance with the SUNY Assessment Initiative for the Major, each academic program undergoes a comprehensive Academic Program Review (APR) every five years. MVCC has developed an Academic Program Review Tool in accordance with the guidelines set by the MSCHE Standards and the SUNY University Faculty Senate Guide for the Evaluation of Undergraduate Academic Programs (2001 revision). MVCC encourages faculty to bring in External Reviewers, as appropriate, to provide feedback by examining the report and by visiting the program facilities.

For the APR process, there is a focus on examining student learning outcomes assessment results found on the templates and the reports from the External Reviewers. Findings from the APR process are summarized in the Strengths and Weaknesses portion of the report, along with suggestions for addressing the challenges identified. Planning and budgeting allocations for the next year then incorporate the resources to address the suggestions, as feasible by the budgeting constraints.